It’s easy to see that Faiq Zamir is a restless soul. Even as we sat down for this interview, he was constantly tapping the table, shifting his legs, and veering his gaze from one distraction to another – like a neurotic character off a Woody Allen-derivative movie. Or maybe it’s just a customary drummer’s syndrome. Nonetheless, Faiq’s fitful bustle translates well into the music that he’s found himself making under the guise of Half-court. Having only been at it for a couple of months, you’d expect his tracks to still be rather raw and unvarnished – but no, his expertise behind the kit for Tenderfist has carried over into this solo project of his.
The tracks that he’s put out so far on his SoundCloud (four of them at this time) contrast in multiple forms of artful colour, but many things still hold true despite the differences in their respective tonalities. Dynamic control is handled adroitly, with percussive shifts and ghost notes keeping things fresh over straight up kick-snare patterns. Whoever Faiq pulls in to be on the kit come his tentative live performance this June (details very vague at the moment), it’s going to have to be someone who’s got the game to match the rhythmic expression of his very own consciousness.
Also, if you’re expecting something rather electropoppy along the lines of Faiq’s other project, Tenderfist, you’re going to leave disappointed. He’s put together a more mature sound for this solo project, in which he’s doing “whatever [he] wants to do.” It remains to be seen though, whether his newfound passion will translate into a shift in direction for Tenderfist’s work in the studio this coming month. Oozing with melodic class, Half-court’s layers tend to be structurally simple yet foundationally sound. The compounded euphony of his varied articulations oftentimes amount to more than the sum of their parts. It’s chillwave, with room to breathe. It’s uptempo deep house, without being lathered by suffocating synthesisers.
Despite the repetitive samples and motifs in each song, Faiq adds in thoughtful embellishments just in time to keep things interesting, yet not too often as though to lean the way of the overly progressive self-indulgent producer. It’s interesting to see someone from the relatively previous gen take up the production reins untethered and altogether separate from the general direction of how the current local underground scene is. It’s not a slight at anyone – but it’s great to see that the electronic wave isn’t just progressing in a single direction.
Horns, bells, synthesisers, percussion, drum machines, guitars – it’s all here, except for vocal work, which we feel would be the icing on the cake. He mentions that he has a few collaborations in mind, but they have to be kept on the down low for now – and that he’s also keen to work with our Art Director Euseng Seto (you might know him as flica) on a track or two in the future. We feel that if his work is already as good as it is without any semblance of a singing arrangement, anybody that he does pull in eventually to complement his tracks is going to be someone who’s at least up to par with his meticulous standards.
However, Faiq comes off as cautiously world-weary when it comes to talking about the future of either of his projects: “It’s going to be the same thing all over again, whether in five years or 10 years. In KL, or even Malaysia [in general], we’re going to be stuck just recording, releasing, and then touring for a short while before we do the same thing again.”
We’d like to think otherwise. We’d like to believe that as long as people like Half-court keep turning up, it’s only ever going to get better.